Shawabty of King Piankhy (Piye)
Napatan Period, reign of Piankhy (Piye)
Findspot: Nubia (Sudan), el-Kurru, KU 17
Overall: 10.6 cm (4 3/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This is a shawabty of King Piankhy (Piye). The object was broken in two pieces and is mended. The male figure wears a tripartite wig, an uraeus and a long beard. This mummiform shape does not have a back pillar or base. No hands or implements are depicted. There is one unframed column of painted text which shows the cartouche on the front of the figure. The object is half molded with a flat dressed back.
The ancient Nubians included shawabtys in their tombs only in the Napatan Period, about 750–270 B.C. These funerary figurines are based on Egyptian shawabtys, but differ from them in many features of their iconography. For instance, the known Nubian examples are only from royal tombs. Also, they have unique texts, implements, poses and are known to have the largest number of shawabtys included in one tomb. Their function, it is assumed, was the same as that of the Egyptian shawabty, namely to magically animate in the Afterlife in order to act as a proxy for the deceased when called
From el-Kurru, Ku 17 (tomb of Piankhy). 1919: excavated by the Harvard University–Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; assigned to the MFA in the division of finds by the government of Sudan.
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition